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Penelope Cruz

  1. Francesca Neri, Las edades de Lulú (UK: The Ages of Lulu), Spain, 1990.    At 14,  she was too young for the Bigas Luna kind  of erotica. At 16, she lied about her age for the erotic Jamón, jamón  (US: A Tale of Ham and Passion, For  their third meeting, the  historical epic, Volavérunt, 1999, she was 24.
  2. Verónica Forqué, Kika, Spain-France, 1993.     The reason Cruz is an actress stems from watching  Pedro Almodóvar’s 1990 romp, ¡Átame! (Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down).  “I fell in love. I’d found what I wanted to do.” Her idol congraulated her for  Jamón, jamón and  invited her for a test... in Almodóvar’s kitchen. She tried hard but was not old enough. He kept an eye on her and called again for Carne trémula (UK-US: Live Flesh), 1996 -    for a hooker giving birth on a bus! -  and a pregnant nun in  Todo sobre mia madre (UK-US: All About My Mother), 1999. He later  rescued her after “Hollywood didn’t know what to with me,”  with  Volver, 2006, Los abrazos rotos (Broken Embraces ), 2009, and its spin-off short, La Conconcejala antropofaga.
  3. Catherine Zeta Jones, The Mask of Zorro, 1997.     Cruz and Shakira passed after director Robert Rodriguez and Salma Hayek (his Elena choice) were elbowed out of a much tougher rendition by Columbia… closer to his El Mariachi franchise, also played by Antonio Banderas (and Hayek). Producer Steven Spielberg found Catherine in the 1996 TV mini-series take of Titanic.  
  4. Salma Hayek, The Wild Wild West, 1999.   “The script was so misogynistic,” said Italian star Asia Argento. Apparently, Jennifer Lopez agreed and Cruze was tied to her Franco-Spanish film, Volavérunt. Like almost everyone else concerned with the enterprise – including the star and director, Will Smith and Barry Sonnenfeld - Hayek hated the movie.
  5. Lucy Liu, Charlie’s Angels, 2000.   Tele-tycoon Aaron Spelling decided to put Aaron’s angels on the big screen  (to help generate a new series on the small). His first new  trio: MTV discovery Jenny McCarthy, ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell and 007's Hong Kong martial arts superstar. Then, Drew Barrymore showed him how to do it. with the  third  of her numerous (canny) productions. Just look at the 25 girls she shuffled to find the right  angel Alex Munday: Aaliyah (“too young”), Jennifer Aniston, Asia Argento, Halle Berry, Lara Flynn Boyle, Helena Bonham Carter, Penélope Cruz, Kristin Davis, Jodie Foster, Angie Harmon (stuck on Law & Order),  Salma Hayek, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Nia Long, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tiffani Thiessen, Uma Thurman, Liv Tyler, , Kate Winslet, Reese Witherspoon, Robin Wright, Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones… And two singers: Lauryn Hill and another  Spice Girl: Victoria Beckham.
  6. Jennifer Garner, Daredevil, 2002.      Also considered for Elektra:  Cruz, Jessica Alba, Jolene Blalock, Neve Campbell,  Portia de Rossi, Claire Forlani, Angie Harmon, Salma Hayek, Katie Holmes, Milla Jovovich, Nicole Kidman, Lucy Liu,  Mia Maestro,  Rhona Mitra, Bridget Moynahan, Natalie Portman, Kyra Sedgwick, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon. Plus the Norwegian ballet dancer Natassia Malthe, who became Typhoid in Garner’s Elektra spin-off.
  7. Paz Vegas, Carmen,  Spain-UK-Italy,  2003.     Vicente Aranda first considered  the (sometimes) fiery Penelope, until realising that the sultry star of Lucia Y El Sexo/Sex And Lucia was more  perfect for the femme fatale.
  8. Kirsten Dunst, Melancholia, Denmark-France-Germany-Sweden, 2010.     Lars  von Trier Doesn’t Always Get What He Thinks He Oughta... Part Two.  He tried to badger Nicole Kidman into completing his nonsensical, no-sets, US trilogy (she quit after the first film) and this depressed bride was penned for Cruz who left it alone...  wisely, even though it won Dunst the 2011 Cannes Best Actress award. Von Trier said the tedious role was based on himself. “I tend to feel better represented when I’m a she, somehow.” No wonder that Cruz preferred to join Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean:  On Stranger Tides.  Much more fun!
  9. Noomi Rapace, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shows, 2010.     In  the  mix to be Sim  - like her husband, Javier Bardem,  was up for Moriarty. Except they were pregnant!
  10. Sofia Vergara, New Year’s Eve, 2011.     Sofia picked up what Cruz threw away - director Garry Marshall’s star-packed kinda-sequel to his 2009 Valentine’s Day.
  11. Meryl Streep, Into The Woods, 2013.  
  12. Halle Berry, John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum, 2018.  Still in need of a  haircut and a real beard, Wick III kicks off  when his his dog is klilled ("It wasn't just a puppy") and the Latin title explodes: "If you want peace, prepare for war." Not much much room then for a  girl alongside Keanu Reeves.  Shortlisted for Sofia were Cruz, Jennifer Beals, Marion Cotilliard, Salma Hayek, Eva Longoria, Uma Thurman, Marisa Tomei. Halle had the edge. She’d worked with James Bond… played Catwoman… and won an Oscar!


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